A man from Dorset has been sentenced to 27 years in prison after being found guilty of an historic murder in Berkshire, in a case of double jeopardy.
Andrew Everson, aged 54, of The Esplanade, Weymouth, Dorset (this address has been corrected after new information from the Police) was found guilty of one count of murder by a unanimous jury yesterday (Wednesday 3rd April) at Reading Crown Court, after a four week trial.
The conviction is in relation to the murder of David Watkins, which happened 26 years ago.
Everson (pictured below) shot 30-year-old David Watkins with a shotgun in a remote location in Pingewood, near Reading, on 14 January 1993.
Everson, who was living in Crowthorne at the time of the offence, was arrested and charged with the murder in 1993, but was found not guilty of murder by a jury following a trial in February 1994.
(Above: Andrew Everson - picture credited to Thames Valley Police)
However, after a reinvestigation by Thames Valley Police’s Major Crime Review Team, Everson’s acquittal was quashed by the Court of Appeal and a re-trial was ordered. The re-trial commenced at Reading Crown Court on 4 March this year.
Following the conviction, the Head of Thames Valley Police’s Major Crime Review Team, Peter Beirne said:
“Andrew Everson was arrested and charged with the murder of David Watkins at the time, but he was found not guilty of murder by a jury following a trial in February 1994.
“My team commenced a reinvestigation of the case in 2012, which included the re-examination of the forensic evidence. During this review, fibres that were discovered on David’s clothes were found to match fibres recovered from Everson’s vehicle, a Peugeot 309 GTI. Everson had always denied that David had been in his car.
“Firearms discharge residue was also discovered in Everson’s vehicle, which supported our case. Everson had also denied having access to any firearms in 1993.
“With this new evidence, we arrested Everson on 20th October 2015 and during police interviews he then admitted he had been a drug dealer and had met David on the night of the murder to complete a drugs transaction. He also admitted buying a shotgun in 1992, but refuted the allegation that he had murdered David - two facts that he had denied during the first trial in 1994.
“Following these police interviews, Everson was charged with one count of murder on 21st October 2015. The case was then taken to the Court of Appeal, which, in June last year, quashed Everson’s acquittal, and ordered a re-trial.
“I am delighted that today the jury has found Everson guilty of murder, and finally, after 26 years, David’s family and friends have some sense of justice.
“David left his house on the evening of 14th January 1993 with about £6,000 in cash to buy drugs from someone called ‘Drew’, who we believe to be Andrew Everson. Tragically, David never returned home to his partner and two boys, who were aged just three and one at the time.
“Our case is that Everson lured David to an isolated location in Pingewood under the pretence of carrying out the drug deal. However, after arriving at Pingewood, David was executed. He was forced to kneel down and was shot in the back of the head with a shotgun. Local residents reported hearing the sound of a gun being fired at just after 9pm that evening. Sadly, David's body was discovered by a local resident the following day.
“Everson has never confessed to murdering David, therefore his motive is unclear, but we believe he was driven by a need to find cash because he was in debt at that time. This is supported by the fact that after the murder Everson was found in possession of £3,500 in cash, some of which had David’s fingerprints on it.”
Susan Wardle, David's partner, provided this statement following the news that Everson had been found guilty:
“I met my partner David Watkins in May 1987. He made me laugh and we were very comfortable in each other’s company.
“Soon after meeting, David moved in with me and we started our lives together as a couple.
“We fell pregnant a year later. When I told David that I was 25 weeks pregnant, I swore him to secrecy, however he was so excited that within a few minutes he had called family to tell them we were expecting.
“David was an extremely proud father to our two boys; we were his world and he would do anything for us. He worked hard to support his family and when he wasn’t working he would spend quality time with our boys.
“David was a very kind person. I remember during our first Christmas in our new home David invited a friend to Christmas dinner as he knew his friend would be alone on Christmas Day; that was the sort of person my David was, always thinking of others.
“On the day David died, the children were ready for bed but when David had called ahead to say he was coming home I allowed them to stay up and wait for their dad. When David came home that evening he played with the children before they went to bed. I am so pleased I let them stay up that night as this would be the last time they saw their dad.
“When the police came round to tell me that David had been killed it was total disbelief. My dad once said to me: ‘you have to deal with what you can’t change’, so that is exactly what I did. I couldn’t bring David back, so I coped by adopting a matter of fact attitude. I hardened emotionally in order to make life normal again and move on. As normal as it could be. A new normal.
“I had to keep it together for the sake of my very young children. I avoided the truth with the children for a week or so after David died, stating that daddy was working away. I then drip fed my eldest son, Stephen, information and told him that David had died.
“A few months later, Stephen asked me if his daddy had died in a car crash? As hard as it was, I knew it was time to tell them the awful truth. I told him that a bad man had killed his daddy. He replied: ‘Is the bad man going to kill us?’ I reassured him that the police had caught the man. But, I didn’t think we would have to wait 26 years to receive justice.
“It was a shock when the police knocked on my door in 2015 to tell me that Everson had been re-arrested and charged with David’s murder. I was delighted that David had not been forgotten. However, there followed three long years until the case got to court.
“The re-trial was like opening Pandora’s Box, we had to relieve the very worst period of our lives for a second time, but this time my sons were old enough to understand the harrowing details.
“I am entirely grateful to my family who have supported me throughout and my employers for the understanding they have shown and to allow me to attend every day of the re-trial.
“My family would like to thank Thames Valley Police for never giving up on getting justice for David.
“Everson has robbed me of growing old with the man I loved. He has robbed my children of their father. But in spite of everything, our family has stayed strong, and my David’s legacy lives on through my boys, who have grown up to be amazing men.
“Murder creates more victims than the person who is killed, it changes lives and devastates families.”